Today’s papers: Gaza wall, housing corruption, and MB unrest

Three of Egypt’s biggest state-owned newspapers – Al-Ahram, Akhbar Al-Youm, Al-Gomhoriya – all ran headlines regarding the perceived importance of the underground iron wall being built along the Gaza border. A front page headline in Al-Ahram read ‘Armed forces implement construction works to secure border with Gaza.’ Akhbar Al-Youm headlined a quote from Mufid Shehab, Minister of Parlimentary Affairs: “Construction works in Rafah are a necessity for national security.” While Al-Gomhoriya ran a headline reading “For the sake of its national security Egypt has a right to build the iron wall’ – a quote attributed to Palestinian Presidential Advisor, Nemr Hammad.

Al-Ahram quotes Mufid Shehab, Minister of Parliamentary Affairs, saying that certain “fundamentalist Palestinian organizations” are using the tunnels between Egypt and Gaza to smuggle weapons and explosives to be used in terrorist operations which threaten national security and internal stability. “A terrorist plot was foiled and 11 elements were arrested after having infiltrated from Gaza through tunnels,” added Shehab.

However, this newspaper did not mention when the plot was foiled. The minister states that these elements were affiliated to Al-Qaeda, Hamas, and the Army of Islam, amongst other armed groups. These elements were planning to commit suicide bombings in North and South Sinai, according to Shehab.

The weekly Akhbar Al-Youm focused on Egypt’s involvement in big projects and investment schemes in 2010. including the establishment of large cement and steel factories, along with a massive factory producing buses. Five billion pounds for the development of civil aviation capacities. While five and a half billion are to be invested in an Egyptian project for the development of highway networks in Kuwait. Another highway development project in Egypt, estimated at LE 3.6 million, is to be determined via a public tender within the next two months.

The liberal opposition paper Al Wafd set its sights upon the parliamentary elections to be conducted at the end of 2010, and especially the electoral preparations of the ruling National Democratic Party. In the run-up to these elections, Al-Wafd, points to possibility that the NDP will replace 200 of its MPs in the 454 seat assembly. It placed a spotlight on the role of NDP bigwig Ahmad Ezz in the politics of this re-shuffle.

Meanwhile, the elections of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Guidance Bureau and the subsequent resignation of Deputy Guide, Mohamed Habib, have led to “Unrest within the ranks of the Brotherhood” according to Al-Wafd. This newspaper also covered a protest outside the Israeli Embassy in Cairo on Friday, which was staged by foreign activists, affiliated with the Gaza Freedom March, demanding an end to the siege of Gaza.

The independent Al-Shorouk featured news about building code violations, evictions, demolitions, and the corruption of housing officials. Allegations of financial misappropriation have been officially leveled against the former Housing Minister, Mohamed Ibrahim Soliman, by the Administrative Monitoring Authority. Meanwhile state prosecutors have begun looking into a complaint filed by the Governor of Cairo, Abdel Azim Wazir, against the landlords of 28 buildings which are said to be in violation of building codes in the shantytown of Ezbet el-Haggana in Nasr City. Nine officials from the Nasr City Council are also being questioned regarding these alleged violations. Demolitions and demolition orders issued against these 28 buildings led to clashes between local residents and security forces on 15 December, which resulted in the death of an elderly resident along with the injury of sixteen policemen and eleven residents.


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